Adoption is Dead. Long live Adoption!

Rumors surrounding the death of adoption have been greatly exaggerated.

The 2.0 Enterprisey crowd is gearing up to head to Boston for our annual pilgrimage.  This will be my fourth conference as a participant and board member.  Having watched and often interpreted the trends in this sector, I find it interesting to report that things have not changed much in general since our first get-together in 2007.   While it’s true that we have many, many more organizations large and small experimenting with and committing to 2.0 strategies– internally and externally– and the business itself is morphing into something much more grand and all-encompassing, the truth of the matter is: we are still early adopters of this new way of working.

The notion of “adoption” in general occasionally gets called into criticism by bloggers who are looking at the phenomenon purely through the lens of new technology adoption.   The adoption phenomenon is much more far-reaching and encompasses a wholesale reinvention of the way we will work in the future.  Social data and social layers that will filter transactions in the enterprise are the Next Big Thing in enterprise.  Period.  But before we can get there, we need to on-ramp legions of employees to change their attitudes and behaviors to maximize the benefits of what the socially connected universe offers.

It’s easy for us who spend a lot of time on the social web to re-imagine where we are in real terms relative to widespread embrace of social strategy and tactical best practices.   This is a mistake, and we need to scale back our expectations and see the immediate opportunity for what it is: an early adopter market.  This reality has been difficult to swallow, perhaps especially for me.   We’ve kicked off our case study series and early indicators are reinforcing the relative immaturity of the market.  We’ll have more details on those in upcoming months.  The good news is: we are all really early on a phenomenon that is changing the world as we know it.  This social transformation will be larger and more comprehensive than any technology transformation (including the Internet and mobile) we’ve seen thus far.  Those of us who are in this for the long haul know this instinctively and welcome the opportunity to shape the future.

That said, the Council members (who are squarely on the front lines of galvanizing change) have been working hard to put together some thinking on what’s working and what’s not  on the Adoption Trail.  In addition to our full-day workshop, we have an  entire track devoted to adoption issues at the conference this year.  I invite you to hear directly from these customers– at their sessions, at lunch, at the bar, in the halls… wherever they are.  You’ll know them because they’ll be wearing our pins, as well as a star on their badges.  We have over 30 Council members attending from a variety of industry sectors including: IT/High Tech, Telecommunications, Pharmaceuticals, Public Utilities, Government, Construction, Publishing, Retail, Non-Profit, Health Care, Financial Services, and Manufacturing.

On the last day of the conference, in the last session time slot, I’ve reserved time to discuss “what we missed” in our agenda planning.  As board members, we try hard to include everything topical that’s fit to present, but invariably, we could fall short and miss or underplay something important.  This session is an attempt to capture that lost content and discuss it with a panel of customers and industry thought leaders (including Dennis Howlett and Lee Bryant, as well as a team of sharp shooter Council members).  So, while you’re attending sessions, please keep a mental note of anything you feel has been missing from the dialog all week and bring it to the session.  We’re going to try and keep the session as interactive as possible.

Look forward to seeing you all in Boston.

Let Go and Let Talent

What is the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future?  According to a new study by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, CEO’s point to creativity as the engine for future growth.

Creative leaders are key to driving the kind of change large organizations require to wrestle with global complexity and information overload.  Open leadership coupled with inspiring creativity is the management mantra of this new decade.  It’s a far cry from the pop management themes of yesteryear which advocated tightly controlled hierarchies, silos, and re-engineered and structured processes that slashed costs, jobs, and produced routine outcomes.

One of the reasons I love working with the Council members is because their energy and passion is nearly limitless.  They all work in the sweet spot of this new corporate cultural revolution.  Selling transparency, collaboration, trust, and authenticity– they’re armed with the principles that will guide their organizations to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

As these corporate positions are relatively new, there is a lot of flexibility and opportunity for our members to express creativity to advance the state of adoption company-wide.   Along these lines, I want to highlight one of our members’ (Ted Hopton) efforts to inspire adoption of its socio-collaborative platform.  Called, “the Wiki” (although admittedly, much more than a wiki), UBM employees brainstormed fun and engaging ways to introduce its employees to Jive SBS 4.0’s new features.  As it turns out, employee Chris Harris (aka DJ $crilla) is an award-winning rapper.  He wrote the lyrics, performed, and directed the video.  The video was also filmed and edited by UBM employees.

And what did the CEO, David Levin, think of the creative execution?   He was the chief sponsor and appears in a cameo role.  Big ups, all around.

Enterprise 2.0: The Next Narrative

Enterprise 2.0 was launched in the spring of 2006 as a result of Andrew McAfee’s case study interviews in 2005 on Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DrKW), an investment bank in London.  The story unfolded after he and his team studied the work of J.P. Rangaswami, who was then Global CIO of the bank.  It’s sometimes surprising to me when I realize how much has changed since those early days.   For starters, the technology foundation of the DrKW case study was wikis (Socialtext), blogs (b2evolution), and messaging software (MindAlign).  Of these three, only Socialtext is what I would consider top-of-mind in the E20 sector (and the company’s software has extended well beyond an enterprise wiki.)  J.P. Rangaswami even left DrKW and has successively mastered several positions at BT where he is now Chief Scientist.

In short, Enterprise 2.0 is maturing.  It’s high time for a new series of case studies.  This week, McAfee (today, speaking at SXSW) and I are announcing  The 2.0 Adoption Council and MIT’s Center for Digital Business will be co-producing a series of case studies that explore the modern dynamics driving the 2.0 phenomenon in a sampling of large enterprises.  We’ve identified the following themes that are present in most initiatives:

  • Innovation:  Leveraging collaboration and social activity to spur discovery, idea generation, and breakthroughs for the organization or customers
  • Time-to-Market: Accelerating the time to bring products/services to market by collapsing artificial silos/boundaries and time zones
  • Cultural Reinvention: Using the philosophies of 2.0 to reshape the organizational DNA, embracing transparency, collaboration, trust, and authenticity
  • Visibility: To provide a real-time view into operations and business process by connecting people and ideas.
  • Cost Reduction: Substituting more agile, lightweight tools for connecting and sharing that are easier to manage and significantly reduce operational cost.
  • Knowledge-sharing: Harvesting institutional knowledge of the enterprise for the purposes of retaining it, exposing it and providing easy access to it.
  • Expertise location: Indexing and surfacing hidden and known talent in the Enterprise.
  • Productivity improvement: Providing socio-collaborative tools to the workforce for measurable gains in productivity.
  • Talent Retention: Providing tools that add to workplace satisfaction and positive employee work experience, especially germane to retaining GenX and GenY talent.

Each case study, written in a detailed contextual narrative, will highlight at least one of these themes.  Our goal is to produce approximately a dozen solid case studies from different industry sectors.  We will be delving into the business rationale for each case, its particular adoption strategy and status, as well as the expected business results.   We hope to be able to discuss the progress on these case studies at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in mid-June.   As soon as I have secured our sponsor commitments, work will begin immediately.

If you have suggestions for the case study series, I’d love to hear them.

Cisco Will Prove the Model

It’s about that time again when bloggers and pundits start thinking about predictions for the New Year.  I took a look at mine for 2009 and was pleased I was correct at least some of the time.  One that is coming true, albeit a little later than I had hoped, is this one: John Chambers

John Chambers is talking and walking the talk.  BusinessWeek has a feature this week on “Cisco’s Extreme Ambitions.”  The story details how Cisco is leveraging non-traditional methods to turbo-charge its growth and deliver strong margins to Wall Street.  One of those innovative tactics is democratizing decision-making and using a variety of web-based tools to identify talent.

‘…John Chambers and Cisco’s entire leadership are focused on driving Cisco’s growth and business results.’ Chambers admits the council structure is unusual but argues it’s the only way a company Cisco’s size can move as fast as it needs to. He says the councils work and help identify talent throughout the company.

Cisco is taking on a lot of risk and reinventing the company from the ground up driven by the  principles of 2.0 transformation.  Chambers said in his address at Cisco Live, “Organizational structures enabled by the network as a platform can change the speed and dynamics of a company.”

This is what we talk about when we’re talking about transformational change and the reinvention of work.  The end game is market competitiveness.  BusinessWeek sums it up:

In a sense, Chambers is bidding for a place in the history books. He’s trying to use the ambitious expansion and unconventional management strategy to demonstrate how a company the size of Cisco can remain fast-growing and nimble. If he succeeds, he may end up regarded as a business icon, along the lines of General Electric’s Jack Welch.

Like Marc Benioff, Chambers is betting the business.   Perfect time, incidentally, for Andrew McAfee whose ideas are now seeding The Harvard Business Review, management book shelves, and The McKinsey Quarterly.

As a Matter of Fact…

Well, well, well.   Didn’t I relish that gushing endorsement of social computing last week by Marc BenioffYes. I did. As the conversation took off on Twitter, what was game-changing-significant was that a tech celeb– known very well in Enterprise circles, as well as the financial community– threw his Enterprise SaaS hat in the ring and announced the company’s, “Biggest breakthrough ever: Salesforce Chatter.”  Of course, Salesforce Chatter is the company’s answer to social computing.

Sometimes it takes a celebrity to help a new technology cross the chasm.  But more often than not, however, the most influential catalyst is market acceptance.  So, whilst I welcome the newfound attention and consciousness-raising for 2.0 adoption in business, I’m eager to start publishing some of the factual data that supports the hype is not without merit.

The 2.0 Adoption Council is now unveiling some of the research we’ve been collecting on our members.  The first synopsis report should be ready this week, available for download.   The survey reflects responses from over 70 of our members spanning over 17 industries, managing over $50M in budgets expressly dedicated to Enterprise 2.0 initiatives.

Here are some quick data points that are proving interesting:

adoption research

In addition to our survey research, The Council has also released its first “how-to” report, “A Framework for 2.0 Adoption in the Enterprise.”  This report was written by Gil Yehuda after interviewing members who described a narrative on how rolling out an initiative worked at their large enterprise.  The paper tracks neatly through a logical iterative sequence and “Director’s Commentary” on how to successfully introduce 2.0 technology and practices to a diverse employee base.

Picture 10

The market survey results should be ready this week for download free (courtesy of OpenText who sponsored the study), but the “Framework” report is available now for $425 in our store.

More good news coming from the Council includes the announcements of some strategic relationships, as well as a new web site currently in production.

Stay tuned.

E20/SF: Bigger and Better than ever

flickr by Alex Dunne
flickr by Alex Dunne

Bigger, busier and more “social” than ever, the Enterprise 2.0 Conference San Francisco is abuzz with conversation on how to participate in the market’s riches.

Lots of new products/services have been announced here, and the sessions have been packed– some standing room only or attendees taking seats on the floor.

Andrew McAfee, the father of e20, launched his book here.  You can see him in this photo (bottom left) signing books issued by the publisher.

We have approximately a dozen members here from The 2.0 Adoption Council. As always, it’s great to participate virtually, but the face to face meetings and memory-making events are irreplaceable.

We were extremely proud to announce our “Internal Evangelist of the Year 2009” yesterday.  The winner of this year’s award is Claire Flanagan, Senior Manager KM and Enterprise Social Software Strategy, CSC.  Claire received accolades from her executive leadership, as well as Jive software whose platform CSC is building out to its nearly 100K employees.  The final nominees for this award also included Megan Murray, Booz Allen Hamilton and Greg Lowe, Alcatel-Lucent.

Today, Council members will participate in a morning keynote session addressing the highly charged question, “Is Enterprise 2.0 a Crock?”   And once again, Ross Mayfield and I will be facilitating a few unconference sessions this afternoon starting at 3:15pm.  If you have a burning issue you want to address with peers, this is your opportunity to share informally with conference attendees and get some personalized answers.